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Engineers build living patch for damaged hearts

May 7, 2013 7:56 am | News | Comments

Duke University biomedical engineers have grown 3D human heart muscle that acts just like natural tissue. This advancement could be important in serving as a platform for testing new heart disease medicines. The “heart patch” grown in the laboratory from human cells overcomes two major obstacles facing cell-based therapies—the patch conducts electricity at about the same speed as natural heart cells and it “squeezes” appropriately.

Scientists build a living patch for damaged hearts

May 6, 2013 12:24 pm | News | Comments

Duke University biomedical engineers have grown three-dimensional human heart muscle that acts just like natural tissue. The "heart patch" grown in the laboratory from human cells overcomes two major obstacles facing cell-based therapies—the patch conducts electricity at about the same speed as natural heart cells and it "squeezes" appropriately.  

Decades-old question: Is antibacterial soap safe?

May 3, 2013 9:15 am | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer | News | Comments

t's a chemical that's been in U.S. households for more than 40 years, from the body wash in your bathroom shower to the knives on your kitchen counter to the bedding in your baby's basinet. But federal health regulators are just now deciding whether triclosan—the germ-killing ingredient found in an estimated 75% of antibacterial liquid soaps and body washes sold in the U.S.—is ineffective, or worse, harmful.

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Study uses Botox to find new wrinkle in brain communication

May 2, 2013 2:36 pm | News | Comments

National Institutes of Health researchers have used the popular anti-wrinkle agent Botox to discover a new and important role for a group of molecules that nerve cells use to quickly send messages. This novel role for the molecules, called SNARES, may be a missing piece that scientists have been searching for to fully understand how brain cells communicate under normal and disease conditions.

New imaging technique visualizes bio-metals and molecules simultaneously

May 2, 2013 2:25 pm | by Juliette Savin, RIKEN | News | Comments

Metal elements and molecules interact in the body, but visualizing them together has always been a challenge. Researchers at RIKEN in Japan have developed a new molecular imaging technology that enables them to image bio-metals and bio-molecules at the same time in a live mouse. This new technology will enable researchers to study the complex interactions between metal elements and molecules in living organisms.

Printable “bionic” ear melds electronics and biology

May 1, 2013 5:39 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at Princeton University used off-the-shelf printing tools to create a functional ear that can "hear" radio frequencies far beyond the range of normal human capability.  Standard tissue engineering involves seeding types of cells onto a scaffold of a polymer material called a hydrogel. But this method is not useful for complex 3D shapes, which is why researchers turned to 3D printing methods.

Study: Synthetic biology research community has grown significantly

May 1, 2013 10:02 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Synthetic Biology Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars have recently reported that the number of private and public entities conducting research in synthetic biology worldwide grew significantly between 2009 and 2013. Their findings, which include more than 500 organizations, are tracked on an interactive online map.

Zinc: The perfect material for bioabsorbable stents?

May 1, 2013 9:49 am | by Marcia Goodrich, Michigan Technological University | News | Comments

In 2012, more than 3 million people had stents inserted in their coronary arteries. But the longer a stent is in the body, the greater the risk of late-stage side effects. Studies have investigated iron- and magnesium-based bioabsorbable stents, but iron rusts and magnesium dissolves too fast. Recent research shows that a certain type of zinc alloy might be the answer.

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Toddler is youngest to ever get lab-made windpipe

May 1, 2013 9:34 am | by Lindsey Tanner, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

Hannah Warren has been unable to breathe, eat, drink or swallow on her own since she was born in South Korea in 2010. Until the operation at a central Illinois hospital, she had spent her entire life in a hospital in Seoul. Now, the 2-year-old girl born without a windpipe now has a new one grown from her own stem cells, the youngest patient in the world to benefit from the experimental treatment.

Germ-zapping robots: Hospitals combat superbugs

April 29, 2013 10:49 pm | by Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

They sweep. They swab. They sterilize. And still the germs persist. In U.S. hospitals, an estimated 1 in 20 patients pick up infections they didn't have when they arrived. This causes hospitals to try all sorts of new approaches to stop their spread, including machines that resemble "Star Wars" robots and emit ultraviolet light or hydrogen peroxide vapors.

Antibacterial hydrogel offers protection from stubborn infections

April 24, 2013 5:00 pm | News | Comments

Coating medical supplies with an antimicrobial material is one approach that bioengineers are using to combat the increasing spread of multidrug-resistant bacteria. A research team in Singapore has now developed a highly effective antimicrobial coating based on cationic polymers. The coating can be applied to medical equipment, such as catheters.

Stem cell transplant restores memory, learning in mice

April 22, 2013 10:04 am | by David Tenenbaum, University of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

For the first time, human embryonic stem cells have been transformed into nerve cells that helped mice regain the ability to learn and remember. The study at the University of Wisconsin began with deliberate damage to a part of the brain that is involved in learning and memory. 

Scientists decode DNA of “living fossil” fish

April 17, 2013 9:04 pm | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

The lungfish is the closest living fish relative of animals with four limbs, called tetrapods. But the lungfish genome is too big to decode with current technology. Scientists have decoded the genome of the next best thing: the coelacanth. Thought to have gone extinct some 70 million years ago, the fish was surprisingly discovered alive in 1938 and could provide insights into the evolution of land animals.

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Scientists learn what makes nerve cells so strong

April 16, 2013 11:05 am | News | Comments

How do nerve cells—which can each be up to three feet long in humans—keep from rupturing or falling apart? Recent research reports that axons, the long, cable-like projections on neurons, are made stronger by a unique modification of the common molecular building block of the cell skeleton. The finding may help guide the search for treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.

System allows multitasking runners to read on a treadmill

April 16, 2013 10:03 am | News | Comments

Not many people can run and read at the same time, because the relative location of the eyes to the text is constantly changing. This forces the eyes to constantly adjust. At Purdue University, an industrial engineering professor has introduced a new innovation called ReadingMate, which adjusts text on a monitor to counteract the bobbing motion of a runner's head so that the text appears still.

Researchers turn skin cells directly into the cells that insulate neurons

April 15, 2013 1:00 pm | News | Comments

Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have succeeded in transforming skin cells directly into oligodendrocyte precursor cells, the cells that wrap nerve cells in the insulating myelin sheaths that help nerve signals propagate. The research was done in mice and rats, but if the approach also works with human cells, it could eventually lead to cell therapies for a variety of diseases of the nervous system.

Tiny, injectable LEDs help neuroscientists study the brain

April 11, 2013 5:28 pm | News | Comments

A new class of tiny, injectable light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is illuminating the deep mysteries of the brain. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Washington University in St. Louis developed ultrathin, flexible optoelectronic devices—including LEDs the size of individual neurons—that are lighting the way for neuroscientists in the field of optogenetics and beyond.

DNA discoverer's letter sells for $5.3 million, a record

April 11, 2013 2:46 am | by Ula Ilnytzky, Associated Press | News | Comments

A letter that scientist Francis Crick wrote to his son about his Nobel Prize-winning DNA discovery was sold to anonymous buyer at a New York City auction on Wednesday for a record-breaking $5.3 million. The price, which far exceeded the $1 million pre-sale estimate, was a record for a letter sold at auction, eclipsing an Abraham Lincoln letter that sold in April 2008 for $3.4 million including commission.

Overcoming barriers to medical use of microrockets and micromotors

April 11, 2013 2:13 am | News | Comments

An advance in micromotor technology akin to the invention of cars that fuel themselves from the pavement or air, rather than gasoline or batteries, is opening the door to broad new medical and industrial uses for these tiny devices, scientists said here today. Their update on development of the motors—so small that thousands would fit inside this "o"—was part of the American Chemical Society national meeting.

Researchers engineer “protein switch” to dissect role of cancer's key players

April 10, 2013 12:45 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at the Uniersity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have "rationally rewired" some of the cell's smallest components to create proteins that can be switched on or off by command. These "protein switches" can be used to interrogate the inner workings of each cell, helping scientists uncover the molecular mechanisms of human health and disease.  

Better monitoring and diagnostics tackle algae biofuel pond crash problem

April 10, 2013 12:28 pm | News | Comments

Sandia National Laboratories is developing a suite of complementary technologies to help the emerging algae industry detect and quickly recover from algal pond crashes, an obstacle to large-scale algae cultivation for future biofuels. The research draws upon Sandia's longstanding expertise in microfluidics technology, its strong bioscience research program and significant internal investments.

Recruiting engineered cells to work for warfighters

April 10, 2013 12:22 pm | News | Comments

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) this week launched a collaborative initiative with university researchers focused on synthetic, or engineered, cells—part of a larger effort to use the smallest units of life to help Sailors and Marines execute their missions. ONR currently has multiple ongoing projects in the field of synthetic biology.

“Artificial leaf” gains ability to self-heal damage, produce energy from dirty water

April 9, 2013 5:47 am | News | Comments

Another innovative feature has been added to the world’s first practical “artificial leaf,” making the device even more suitable for providing people in developing countries and remote areas with electricity, scientists reported at the American Chemical Society’s National Meeting & Exposition this week. It gives the leaf the ability to self-heal damage that occurs during production of energy.

Newly discovered blood protein solves 60-year-old riddle

April 9, 2013 5:21 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have discovered a new protein that controls the presence of the Vel blood group antigen on our red blood cells. The discovery makes it possible to use simple DNA testing to find blood donors for patients who lack the Vel antigen and need a blood transfusion. This is significant because there is a global shortage of Vel-negative blood

Study: Microalgae produce more oil faster for energy, food, or products

April 8, 2013 4:09 am | News | Comments

Scientists this week described technology that accelerates microalgae’s ability to produce many different types of renewable oils for fuels, chemicals, foods and personal-care products within days using standard industrial fermentation. On highlight was Solazyme, which has achieved more than 80% oil  within each individual cell of microalgae at the commercial scale.

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